Around 550 million Chinese citizens could be forced to update anti-virus and patch their Windows machines to use online banking.
The move, said to be the first of its kind, will see the country’s third-largest payments provider Alipay use Microsoft's back end to scan customer Windows machines to determine if security systems are up to date.
It will ascertain if important patches were applied, anti-virus signatures up to date and firewalls in use.
Users who fail the test will be issued with a notice warning of their lax security state. It is unknown if customers will be prevented from banking online or have transactions restricted if they fail the test.
Alipay may have to issue a large amount of notices given the high number of counterfeit Windows installations in China, some of which can't be patched. Last year, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said 90 per cent of Microsoft products used in the country were counterfeit.
The move could be a forerunner to the way western banks approach customer security, Microsoft’s chief security strategist Scott Charney said.
“Some banks are already refusing to allow users to use older web browsers like IE (Internet Explorer) 6,” Charney said. “It gives an idea into how they are thinking”.
Banks will have increased capability to regulate the security posture of customers under Windows 8, according to Charney, by tapping into boot security technologies including early launch anti-malware.
Darren Pauli travelled to Redmond as a guest of Microsoft.
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Issue: 345 | December 2015